A mentally unstable woman decided to end it all on Tuesday, April 15, and take her children with her. Fortunately, a heroic bystander disrupted her tragic plans by coming to the recue before it was too late. Now, Joann Smith, 49, of Florence Township, New Jersey is being charged with attempted murder and child endangerment after the mom of four drove a van, with three of her own teenage kids inside, off a boating dock and into the Delaware River.
Around 6:30pm on Tuesday evening, just after getting some ice cream with her children at a nearby parlor, New Jersey mom Smith accelerated her van as she drove towards impending doom. As the vehicle neared the Delaware River in an area not too far from Philadelphia, the teenage kids, ages 13,14 and 15, were screaming in fear. Allegedly, the daughter in the group called her father who was with a fourth child in a different part of town. Meanwhile the sons dialed 911.
Just after the New Jersey mom drove her van, kids and all, into the cold waters of the Delaware River, a fateful happenstance occurred. Darnell Taylor, 36 was driving by the scene on his way to dinner with wife, Laura. He saw the vehicle sinking in what was later described as about 18 feet of water. After Darnell got out of his car he could actually hear the kids yelling from inside Smith’s van. According to Laura Taylor, her husband “had to do something to get them out. He dove in.”
Feeling the need to take action, Taylor jumped in the water and headed out to rescue the clan from the vehicle, which was already “nose-down” in the river. The windows were neither able to be opened from the inside, nor was Taylor able to remove them from the outside. That’s when Taylor, now referred to as a Good Samaritan, told the teenage daughter to kick the window out – which proved to be a successful tactic.
According to Taylor, the young girl jumped into his arms. He then brought her to shore and returned to rescue her brothers and mother. It was reported that, during the ordeal, Joann Smith did actually thank Taylor, but said nothing more. The children were mostly unharmed, save one who suffered minor leg injuries. Smith has now been entered into a mental facility for a psych evaluation. She has also been charged with three counts of attempted murder and endangering the welfare of a child. Joann Smith, 49 is being held on $600,000 bail.
Jeffrey Smith, husband and father told police that his wife had been suffering from mental issues for ten years, and recently had difficulties with her prescribed medication. Undoubtedly, the entire Smith family owes a debt of gratitude to Darnell Taylor – also from Florence Township – who recently stated humbly: “Anyone would do the same thing.” The New Jersey mom who drove a van full of her own kids into the Delaware River, is due in court today to explain to a judge just why she attempted such a heinous act.
Opinion by Josh Taub